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INNOVATE Northern Design Centre

INNOVATE is Northumbria University’s off-campus design-led innovation centre….a space for us to help you explore big challenges and propose better solutions.

INNOVATE at Northern Design Centre from Northumbria University on Vimeo.

caption: Paul Howells, Unilever's Vice Presidnet R&D Packaging and Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Northumbria University

For a business like Unilever, tapping into the latest academic thinking and research is clearly invaluable... the University already has extremely strong design, technology and business capabilities – bringing this together under one roof, as INNOVATE has done, makes for a very attractive proposition. - Paul Howells, Unilever’s Vice President R&D Packaging

Located within the Northern Design Centre on the Baltic Quays, Gateshead, INNOVATE brings together experts in design, technology, business management and a range of other disciplines to create a team which can harness the value of Northumbria’s research excellence and its creative student ‘engines’ to create, capture and deliver value for your business.

Northern Design External BackAt INNOVATE we collaborate with a breadth of partners including regional SMEs, larger corporate businesses such as Unilever and of course public and third sector clients to create insights, propositions and solutions which can change the world around us for the better.

Our design-led approach to innovation allows us to have ‘that’ conversation, the one where you know you have a challenge or an opportunity, but can’t quite define what it is or how to solve it. That’s how we add greatest value… by not just providing the answers but by making sure we’re asking the right questions in the first place.

At INNOVATE we can apply this flexible design-led Innovation approach in a number of ways, depending upon the time available and the outcomes you are looking to achieve;

  • Student Collaborative Projects
    Using our Multidisciplinary Innovation Masters students as INNOVATE’s  ‘Innovation Engine’ we can quickly explore our industry partners’ challenges and develop a range of rich insights and opportunities.
  • Industry  Innovation Projects
    Focused Innovation programmes where we bring the appropriate mix of academic knowledge and practical skills to realise high value, research informed, proposals  for new products, new services or new business models.
  • Knowledge Exchange and Skills Development
    A regular series of Workshops and Executive Education programmes where we share our knowledge and educate our partners in the use of the leading Design-led Innovation Tools and Methods to accelerate innovation in their businesses – see an example of our Skills programme.
  • Innovation Sandpits
    Innovate -NDCThese one or two day events bring together industry and external stakeholders with academic experts to unpack, explore and propose new solutions to identified business or societal challenges. We can run ‘Open Sandpits’ where we address a broad issue facing an industry sector, or ‘Closed Sandpits’ where we specifically focus on your company’s area of challenge. 
  • Innovation ‘Close-Up’
    A programme of short, regular talks hosted throughout the year at INNOVATE and open to all. Here we’ll expose you to new and exciting thinking, show you inspirational innovation from around the world along with a little bit of what not to do.

Watch our Enterprise and Innovation video

For more information on INNOVATE and our bespoke business solutions please contact Lars Holmquist, email:, Tel: 0191 227 3031


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